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Reasons to be cheerleading

Mandisa Greene - RCVS Senior Vice-President

Dr Mandisa Greene, RCVS President 2020-21 delivering her opening speech Cheerleaders, you can never have too many of those throughout your life’s journey. These special individuals are those who, observing your progress, say to you ‘you can do it’ and ‘you’re almost there’ at those moments when you’re starting to grow weary. Some of us have family and friends who act as our cheerleaders, but it can also be mind-blowing when a complete stranger who has completed the route you’re attempting comes back along that route to say ‘you’ve got it in you’ or ‘keep on going’.

This is how I feel about all the opportunities I have been given to speak to the next generation of potential veterinary professionals. Some pupils are in mixed groups by gender identity and ethnicity others are not. No matter what the size or make up of the group I consider it my responsibility to represent our professions accurately and encourage all to consider a career in Veterinary Science.

These activities align with the Diversity and Inclusion Group Strategy’s first work-stream around recruitment to vet/veterinary nurse training and education. Here there is an ambition to develop ambassadors for the professions and communicate to children from a young age about veterinary careers and the importance of veterinary work.

So far, I have been fortunate enough to speak with:

  • Primary school aged pupils eg from Lambeth Council’s Aim High project;
  • Secondary school aged pupils at the National Health Careers Conferences, a live event organised by the Black Stemm Futures initiative and various broadcast events at secondary schools through the Speakers for Schools charity;
  • College students at Newham Sixth Form College and Shooters Hill Sixth Form College, a LeadHERship Virtual Summit organised by the US charity Girls inc, and also one-to-one mentoring sessions with pupils from Harris Academy schools in London;
  • Pre-vet Students via the Vet Mentor social enterprise;
  • Vet Students at Vet Student Wellbeing Week. 

Speaking with these groups, a few of which are listed above, allows me to learn from the brilliant young minds of today.  It permits me to communicate my enthusiasm for our professions and to, hopefully, share some of the things I wish I knew at that age. The feedback has been very positive and when asked one thing they learned from my talk pupils say things like:

  • “To be flexible with your career and not expect it to not go exactly as planned.”
  • “I learnt about the different types of work experience you can do before applying to university.”
  • “Surround yourself with a great support bubble, be adaptable - everyday is different, be compassionate - love to work with both animals and humans, be curious - you will always be learning.“
  • “That you should never give up - try and try again.”
  • “It's ok not to know everything and the important thing is to keep trying and do your best.”

Representation matters. I think it is important that the next generation sees in me, in each of us, someone they can relate to. This not only presents a positive role model who can serve to inspire and motivate, but sharing lived experiences could also help them to navigate any hurdles they may face. At that moment when life presents them with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle they’ll be able to say, 'I’m not going to give up, I’ll continue with this journey, I met someone like me once and if she can do it, so can I.'

Published on 30 March 2021

Tags: Events/meetings